Monthly Archives: October 2014

Five Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

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As you may have guessed, the most successful entrepreneurs have a lot in common.

Those who have studied successful entrepreneurs have found there are many common habits and traits that define and shape their path to success. It’s not about what they do, but about the similarities in their behaviors and their individual processes of consistently replicating those habits. The commonalities between these successful entrepreneurs turn out to be quite consistent. Here’s a look at five common habits of successful entrepreneurs:

Punctuality – If this sounds simplistic, it is. Business coach and consultant Dan Kennedy believes the simple task of being on time is a habit you must adopt if you want to be successful. “A person reveals a great deal about himself by his punctuality or lack of punctuality,” Kennedy says. “As a general rule of thumb, I use this as a means of determining whether or not I want to do business with someone.”

Value customers and employees – Many successful entrepreneurs treat their customers as the driving force behind everything they do. They treat opinions – both customers and employees – as gold, using it to shape their creative process, products and customer service. Ben & Jerry’s is a great case study of valuing opinion and integrating corporate responsibility and philanthropy.

Passion drives business – A strong desire to turn a passion into a business is the ultimate motivator. A look at the most successful entrepreneurs in history would show many who fall into this category. But the best entrepreneurs don’t start off with making a fortune as an objective – it sometimes happens along the way. Passion brings fulfillment and satisfaction beyond a big payday, which as a sole focus causes entrepreneurs to cut corners along the way.

Playing to strengths and expertise – The best entrepreneurs are confident in their areas of expertise and very clearly know their strengths. That leads to profitable decisions. Because they embrace their strengths, they are able to also embrace the concept of team-building and bringing in partners and leaders who offset their weaknesses. This allows them to focus on what they do best.

Embracing obstacles – No business venture will be void of obstacles, but the most successful entrepreneurs find a way to embrace the challenges and find the opportunities and surprises hidden within. Obstacles can help learn about your products and ideas early on, provide quantitative evidence, teach what you might not know and provide feedback that can take you in another direction.

Spotlight: Louis Zamperini

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Louis Zamperini is the epitome of a true American hero.

Many people have heard of Zamperini, but not always for the same reasons. His life story is an incredible tale of determination, achievement and perseverance, one almost unimaginable to believe. As a distance runner he set the world interscholastic record for the mile. He qualified for the 1936 Olympics at the age of 19. He survived 47 days on the open ocean during World War II after his bomber crashed. He then survived two years of brutal captivity as a prisoner-of-war in Japan.

It’s no surprise that his story turned into a No. 1 best-selling book, “Unbroken,” released in 2010. It was adapted into a film in 2014, directed by Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie, and is due to be released on Christmas Day 2014.

Zamperini had a rather modest upbringing in Torrance, California. As an incorrigible and unruly teenager who attended Torrance High, Zamperini only became a distance runner at the behest of his older brother.  Channeling his rebellion and finding an unknown talent, he set a world interscholastic record in the mile in 1934, one that would last 19 years.

His early achievements earned him a scholarship to the University of Southern California, and in 1936 he decided to train for the Olympics. He chose to train for the 5000 meters, a distance he had never run, and finished eighth at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. But it was his final lap at an astounding 56 seconds that caught the attention of Adolph Hitler. As Zamperini would later tell it, he shook hands and took a photo with Hitler.

Two years later, in 1938, Zamperini set a national collegiate record in the mile. Nearing the 4-minute mile, at 4:08, the record would stand for 15 years.

When the war came, Zamperini enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces and was a bombardier on a B-24 Liberator. During a search-and-rescue mission on a defective B-24 searching for a lost plane and crew, Zamperini and the rest of the crew crashed into the Pacific 850 miles West of Oahu, killing eight of the 11 men on board. Astoundingly, Zamperini and two other survivors aimlessly floated across the open ocean for thousands of miles over 47 days until they were captured by the Japanese.

Already surviving an amazing ordeal, Zamperini and a crewmate were captured by the Japanese Navy. He willed his way through years of horrific beatings and torture at several Japanese POW camps and was believed to be killed in action before finally returning home to a hero’s welcome.

Zamperini endured post-war problems back home, but eventually married and became a popular Christian inspirational speaker. He later lived in Hollywood, California, and passed away from pneumonia on July 2, 2014, at the age of 97.

Things You Didn’t Know Google Could Do

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Most would agree that Google is a pretty great thing. Most view it as the most powerful search engine alive. And most have no idea at some of the amazing things Google can do.

It turns out Google is much more than meets the eye. Much of it is right there in front of us beneath the virtual surface in a secret treasure trove of amazing Google tricks, features, and secrets. Here are 10 of the coolest things Google can do that you probably didn’t know about.

Google Sky – If you think Google Maps is a big deal, then try searching through outer space images of stars, planets and galaxies taken from telescopes and satellites.

Google Translations – Really, where else would you go for a quick translation? Just go to the search bar and type in “translate (word) to (language).” Done.

Fly through Google Earth – Of course someone thought of this. Visit Google Earth, press CTRL + ALT + A, and fly around Earth in your choice of simulated aircraft.

Track Packages – Just enter the tracking number of any package, with any company, and see exactly where it is. It’s that easy.

Get to Mordor – If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you can use Google Maps for walking directions on how to get to the infamous Mordor. Seriously.

Thumb through Classic Books – Google Book Search lets you pull up any classic book and thumb right through the pages.

Goglogo – Proving someone had way too much time on their hands, Goglogo lets you personalize the Google logo to whatever text you want.

Google Guitar – To commemorate Les Paul in 2009, Google created a homepage guitar logo. You can play it, and record it.

Bacon Number – Because it’s all about six degrees of separation. Go to the search bar and type in any name and “Bacon number” to see the degrees of separation from the famous actor.

Currency Calculator – Want to figure out how much you really just spend in a foreign pub? Just type it into the search bar for an instant currency calculator.

Inexpensive Ways to Boost Morale

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Many business owners and managers believe they know just what employees want and need. And no doubt there’s no shortage of advice online listing how to boost employee morale. But know this: There are many ways to boost internal morale that cost little, or nothing.

Many of the easiest fixes for internal morale are simply underrated and get right to the source of employee unhappiness. In fact, a [recent Accenture study] reported that 43 percent of the workforce cited “lack of recognition” as the reason for problems. Not wages. Not benefits.

Here are five inexpensive ways to make employees feel valued and recognized and boost morale.

Listen, and react, to employees. Employees will feel valued when they feel like they are being listened to. Be cognizant of the workplace environment, helping reduce stress and burnout and increasing productivity and absenteeism. Boost employee satisfaction by being aware of life-work balance.

Local loyalty program. Develop a loyalty program with other businesses around you who thrive on business from your employees. Partner on discounts, weekly specials and loyalty programs with retailers and restaurants your employees already use.

Bring in food providers. Something as small as lunch can really build morale when employees are too busy to go out and have to eat at their desk. Arrange for food trucks to come to your location, or invite local eateries to provide midday food at your office to bring convenience to your employees.

Connect with local service providers. Simply put, employees will feel valued when you help save them time and effort outside of work. Who wouldn’t want quick and easy access for dry cleaning, a car wash or even a haircut at work? Your workforce gains value by saving their time.

Have compassion for life issues. Life happens to your workforce, even during the day, and your compassion can go a long way. Employees will have far less stress knowing you have their backs. Be forgiving of hours, have schedule flexibility, and try letting employees out early on Fridays or before Holidays to help provide some balance.

Why Did They Buy?

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Business Meeting.

Why do consumers buy what they buy? It’s an age-old question that every business wishes it had the exact answers to solve.

In the simplest terms, customers buy for their own reasons. And the way people buy has changed rapidly due to online shopping, giving consumers more choices – and thus more leverage – than ever before. The advances in ecommerce have also provided invaluable amounts of data, which when analyzed provide a far better understanding of what buyers value when buying than ever before.

It’s long been understood that the buying decision is based on emotional responses based on perceived value or filling a need. Buyers have many options and there are a variety of factors that differentiate products and services, many subjective to each individual.

Some of the lessons learned through ecommerce data likely apply to all buying decisions. According to research by BigCommerce, product quality (56 percent) and free shipping (49 percent) are the top two factors driving purchasing decisions. The most important store feature driving purchasing decisions is competitive pricing (80 percent), while 62 percent of shoppers actually research big-ticket items in stores before buying online. These numbers are just a glimpse into what influences a sale.

Given what business understand about what influences buying decisions, what tactics and strategies can sales people use to increase sales? These are three proven tactics every sales person should know.

Perseverance and tenacity. Historical research shows that only 2 percent of sales occur at the first meeting, and 80 percent of non-routine sales occur only after five follow-ups. The point would be to not give up.

The ‘front of mind’ mentality. As a sales person, when a customer is ready to buy, you want them to think of you and your brand. It’s a fact that many (20 percent) will take more than a year to buy. Maintain effective marketing and communication.

Sell the relationship, not the sale. Successful sales people know that the only thing that matters in sales is relationships. Solving problems, satisfying needs, establishing trust and building loyalty drive the long-term sales process. Successful sales are not about one transaction.

Mobile Engagement You Need to Know About

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Mobile is more than a communications or information tool, it is a global lifestyle. For businesses, brands and organizations, it is both the present and the future in building connections and relationships with customers and consumers.

In laymen’s terms, mobile engagement is defined as marketing via a mobile device that provides customers with personalized time and location sensitive information that promotes goods and services.

There are a litany of statistics that represent why mobile matters. And it matters more each passing day.

Consider that half of the U.S. population uses a smartphone, and that it was estimated by Cisco that there would be more mobile devices on the planet than people by the end of 2013. This infographic shows that 79 percent of people use their mobile device within the first 15 minutes after waking up, and most smartphone users check their devices 150 times per day. By the end of 2015, there will be more people accessing the Internet via mobile devices than wireless computers.

The numbers that prove how addicted consumers are to their phones are staggering. You should be thoroughly convinced that mobile matters.

The reality is that building great experiences and serving customers through mobile marketing is the pulse of consumer engagement strategies for businesses and brands. So what are some mobile engagement marketing strategies businesses can use?

Real-time interaction.
Current mobile marketing is about real-time interactions that build brand value. A mobile device always knows where it is, and brands can unlock that power with hyper-targeted messages based on opportunity and location. Instant feedback from consumers – what they like, what they found helpful, an instant in-store special – are value that bring them back.

Direct interaction.
The social network market might be saturated, but it is still a growing mobile content activity. Integrating an app or ad campaign within a social network to create conversation is useful for any brand.

Useful interaction.
Getting someone to download an app in the crowded market is great, but giving them a reason to consistently use it is another. Consumers are overwhelmed with noise, so cut through it with “sticky” apps that keep users coming back. Customizable content – such as a news feed or mobile chat – create a truly personalized experience that offers brand value.

Tips for Effective After-Sales Service

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Business People Make A Deal

The concept of after-sales service isn’t just abstract theory. Effective after-sales service is a practical business process to improve customer satisfaction, engagement, and retention.

After all, by servicing your customers and clients after the customary sales process, you can tangibly impact the likelihood and opportunities for repeat business as well as referrals. Check out these five helpful tips for effective after-sales management and service.

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Best and Worst Phrases to Include in a Sales Pitch

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Discussion at a consultation

A mastery of using the right phrases within an effective sales pitch can create dialogue, discussion, and engagement with your client. Just as easily, ineffective phrases can take it in the wrong direction.

It should be the goal of every salesperson to ditch the traditional pitch over the phone or in appointments, and instead create a connection that leads to a collaborative conversation. So how is that done? What are the right and wrong words to say?

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